Festive nails

I’m always happy to do friends’ nails and Becky is a regular.  She likes dramatic shades and for Christmas chose Street Swagger (Jessica Geleration) topped off with a glitter coat of Silver Sand (Gelish – see ‘Something new’ post).  She has short, short nails which I think look fantastic with a bold colour.  Deliberately brushed on thinly, Street Swagger behaved better than when I used it on myself for the first time but it did need three coats to get opacity.  With a glitter coat – dabbed on to get the glitter to stay – plus base and topcoat – I reckon her six-layer manicure will last well into 2013!

I did my own nails in Street Swagger as well and, forewarned by my initial experience, managed the gel better.  Like with Becky, it needed three thin coats to reduce the chance of blistering.  A couple of nails were affected but another coat covered the imperfections.  I’m pleased to have more confidence with this shade as it’s a fabulous colour which goes with everything without being overly goth.

Street Swagger


Street Swagger – review

Not how I walk….this is a 2012 colour from the Jessica Geleration range!  It’s a dark, dramatic shade, almost black but with hues of purple, burgundy and brown, much like the colour of a blackberry.  I would have called it blackberry but I suppose Street Swagger is a foxier name.  I kept referring to it a Street Walker…oops, don’t go there!

Street Swagger *

Street Swagger *

I love the colour but it was a nightmare to apply.  The gel:

  • was very streaky on the first coat
First coat

First coat

  • shrinks away from the nail tip and edges during application
  • needs three coats for complete coverage
  • bubbles on any coat if I apply the gel in the depth I normally use.

OK, I’m not a trained nail ‘technician’ (how much training to they get, anyway, a couple of hours??) but I’ve done my own nails dozens with of times with Geleration and never experienced ANY of these issues.

I emailed Jessica Cosmetics for advice – no response.

* Photographed while drinking cava sangria in Barcelona – aren’t you envious?

Top brands or lookalikes?

Jessica GelerationThe first UV soak-off gels I bought for home use were from the Jessica Geleration range because that was what was used in the salon I went to.  I reasoned I knew the colours very well and knew how durable the manicure would be.  I searched ebay for the brand and ordered three colours I’d already experienced (Merlot, Passionate Kisses and Hot Fudge – still favourites), plus base and top coats from a US supplier because they gave the best price, even with postage to the UK.

Since then I’ve tried various other brands, all bought from ebay business sellers.  But I still also buy Jessica Geleration because I can check the colours from the rack in the salon and I’d recommend all nail DIY-ers do this as online colour charts can be very misleading.  Prices for lookalikes – Blue Sky Shellac, Blue Sky Gelish (copying CND Shellac and Harmony Gelish), Chju, etc – come in at between £3 and £7.50 ($4.50 – $10). All of these are presented like conventional nail polish – a bottle with a brush.

You can buy little pots of UV soak-off gel but then you have to get the correct brushes and clean the brushes (non acetone nail polish remover works well) every time.  Having a brush in the pot is loads easier!  The first one I had done in a salon, around 2005, was Bio Sculpture Gel, which comes in pots, and I believe was the first soak-off gel available.  OPI Axxium also comes in pots.

I find each gel has a different consistency and it’s down to your personal preference which you will like best.  Gelish is thick, Shellac thin, Jessica midway.  Durabilty is similar between all the brands I have used at home.  However, I had OPI Axxium done in a salon on holiday and wasn’t impressed with the quality as it chipped within days.  30 euros and I had to remove it off as soon as I came home!  Maybe the beautician’s application skill wasn’t as good as mine!

Durability   Although my fingernails are soft and prone to peel, they grow very fast so I get a maximum of two weeks out of a deep shade – the regrowth starts to annoy me – and a bit longer for paler colours.  UV soak-off gel is perfect if you have weak nails and remove it in accordance with instructions (ie, don’t peel!)  You can paint over with conventional nail polish but you tend to get a ridge at the cuticle end, and it chips easily.  I’ve tried putting a UV top coat over ordinary polish – sometimes it works, sometimes it peels off.

TIP  Make sure you buy UV soak off gel as the original UV gel needs an industrial grinder to remove!

Something new

Today I tried something new – a clear glitter gel called  Silver Sand (Blue Sky Gelish).  It’s very thick out of the bottle and rather difficult to apply the glitter evenly as it tends to brush off as you smooth the gel on the nail.  I ended up dabbing the glitter on which made for a thick coat.  It didn’t bubble while curing but my nails did heat up a it – a sure sign of thickly applied gel.  It’s not as colourful as it looked on the web page – mostly turquoisey blue and silver. Think I’ll try it as a topcoat over a denser colour.  Still, looks festive in the run up to Christmas.

Silver sand Silver sand